I've never understood the appeal of "Laguna Beach" (and I'm really only a little bit older than the show's target audience) - it's a bunch of rich kids and their minor issues - make-ups, break-ups, fashion worries and just about every other possible teen crisis pops up at some point during the episodes. However, the kids have more money than they know what to do with, and am I really supposed to care when one goes into crisis mode when they can't find the best outfit for tonight's party?
"The Hills", which is a "spin-off" of "Laguna", is a step in the right direction. The series, which follows "Beach" star Lauren "L.C." Conrad, actually has characters that do something. This time, Conrad has moved to Beverly Hills in order to secure (read: be given by MTV, who I'm sure set it up) an internship at Teen Vogue. Joined by wilder pal Heidi and friends Audrina and Whitney, the girls try to make it after all. There's certainly a few obstacles along the way though, like Heidi finding out that work requires, well, work.
The second season of the series elevates the drama. At the end of the first season, Lauren decided to not go to Paris on an internship and instead, to spend the Summer at the beach with her boyfriend, Jason. That didn't exactly work out the way she planned: as the season begins, the two are breaking up and Whitney was the one who took her place in Paris. In one of the funniest moments ever on a reality TV show, the two girls head into the office of Teen Vogue editor Lisa Love (who looks more and more botoxed in every scene), who - in the most acidic tone of voice I've ever heard in my entire life, stares down at Lauren and says, "Lauren will always be known as the girl who didn't go to Paris. How was your Summer at the beach with your boyfriend?. Did that work out for you?" Ooooooh! Boss lady burn!
The second season of "The Hills" also sees the further separation of main girls Heidi and Lauren, who begin to go their separate ways. Heidi gets dragged towards the dark side by incredibly sleezy boyfriend Spencer (who has a line for every single situation he gets himself into) and when she begins to betray Lauren (Heidi pushes Lauren's new boyfriend together with her BFF Jen), things quickly turn sour. However, what makes the epic catfight so much fun is that it's not the two yelling and clawing at each other, but a series of double-crosses, backstabbing and manipulations behind each other's backs. It's damn near Shakespearian. Or something.
Despite everyone telling Heidi that he was cheating on her and hitting on other women while they're together, Heidi still gets dragged down, leading to a war between the two where the claws come out. The series is all the better for the battle: while Heidi is deeply manipulative (and did I mention annoying?), Lauren is smart (well, in comparison) and is no pushover. The whole thing is like the "Teen Vogue" version of "Star Wars". Heidi and Lauren are friends first season, Heidi is dragged to the dark side in the second season (the "Attack of the Clones" season, if you will) and the third season is the all-out battle between evil and, in this case, lesser evil.
The two are enjoyably opposite: Heidi's shrill and outgoing, while Lauren is pouty and rather passive/aggressive, and the entire scope of her fury can be seen in one of her many ice glares, which - when directed at Heidi - look like she's thinking about how she wants to tear Heidi's head off and make a designer bag out of it. Meanwhile, well-meaning sidekicks Whitney and Audrina watch from the sidelines and Audrina is there for Lauren when Heidi turns on her. Whitney engages in her own battle at work when super-intern Emily comes to Teen Vogue from New York.
"The Hills" remains more compelling than "Laguna" thanks to the fact that there's simply more going on as the main characters have to try to move forward in their lives, balance work and a social life and make choices. In terms of production quality, "The Hills" sees some upgrades over "Laguna", with much improved cinematography and a sleeker overall feel that gives the show energy and a dynamic feel. As MTV reality shows go, it's certainly one of their more enjoyable offerings and the second season takes it to another level.
The Hills: Season 2
11 Out with the Old... 1/15/2007 201
12 When You Least Expect It 1/22/2007 202
13 The Best Night Ever 1/29/2007 203
14 Who Do You Trust? 2/5/2007 204
15 One Big Interruption 2/12/2007 205
16 You Have Chosen 2/19/2007 206
17 With Friends Like These... 2/26/2007 207
18 Enough Is Enough 3/5/2007 208
19 New Year, New Friends 3/12/2007 209
20 Apology Not Accepted 3/19/2007 210
21 Everyone Falls 3/26/2007 211
22 Goodbye for Now 4/2/2007 212
VIDEO: "The Hills" is presented by Paramount in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality was largely very good, as images looked crisp and clear throughout much of the program, aside from a few soft moments here-and-there. Some slight edge enhancement and artifacting was seen, but the majority of the program looked clean and clear. Colors looked rich and bold, with no concerns.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack remains crisp and clear throughout, with bassy music and well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: The menu design (check out the episode selection especially) is ripped off from the "Lost" DVDs. The extras are contained on the third disc and start with a featurette on the show's photo shoot and another on the premiere party. The girls provide commentary (Lauren and Audrina on some scenes, Audrina and Heidi on some scenes and Lauren and Whitney on some scenes; notice no Heidi/Lauren pairing.) There's also 45 minutes of deleted scenes, starting with - oddly enough - Heidi and Lauren talking about how they're not going to date anyone. There's a lot of good deleted scenes within, such as a reaction to a near-fight between Spencer and one of Heidi's co-workers. We also get interviews with Heidi, Lauren, Whitney and Audrina, as well as promos for other titles from the studio as well as a promo for "Virtual The Hills".
Final Thoughts: "The Hills" is one of MTV's better reality efforts and the series becomes more of a guilty pleasure in the second season as the ridiculous power plays between the characters and powerfully awkward moments between frenemies makes for very amusing TV. The DVD presentation offers good audio/video quality and a solid selection of supplements. Recommended for fans.